Father’s Day Etiquette FAQs

As a mother, daughter and wife, I have many exceptional reasons to show my appreciation this Sunday to the fathers in my life.  I’m sharing a few Father’s Day Etiquette frequently asked questions below.

Q: “My kids are too young to appreciate the meaning of ‘Father’s Day’ – do I buy my husband a gift anyway?”

A: Absolutely the right thing to do. How about a box of your husband’s favorite chocolates or his favorite, a jumbo bag of strawberry Twizzlers with a few pictures of the kids holding the bag with a card and the year 2012? Watch your husband’s eyes light up – at the pictures of course.  Or, what about a handmade card for dad? If your children are too young to color or paint, dip their little toes in some non-toxic paint and make a paint impression of their little feet.

Q: “Our kids are states away…how do you recommend we celebrate Father’s Day?

A: Your kids are likely as busy as can be with school, social lives and maybe even part-time jobs.  Remind them that Father’s Day is coming up, and ask what they have planned to show their appreciation for their Dad.  Just because they can’t come home for Father’s Day doesn’t mean they can’t make it special for Dad.  If you have Skype or Facetime on your iPhone, take the time to test it out before the big day arrives and surprise Dad with a special video call from the kids.

Q: “How should I celebrate Father’s Day with my stepfather and biological father?“

A: Every family dynamic is different.  If you are blessed with a father and stepfather, make separate time for each of them. Who says you have to celebrate on a particular day? Make it a point to spend time with those you love, regardless of the day. Express your gratitude for the positive impact they’ve made on your life.

Q: “My father is no longer with us.  How can I honor his memory?”

A: Continuing to honor your Dad on Father’s Day is truly a wonderful idea.  What mattered most to your father? Was he a veteran? Did he love animals? Consider volunteering for a cause you know he cared deeply about.  Or, make a donation in his honor.  Lastly, take extra care of your mother if she is still with you – something you know he’d want you to do.

Q: “Help! I’m torn between celebrating Father’s Day with my own Dad, the father of my children, and my father-in-law.  Since we each live in different cities, much of the day is spent traveling, leaving me feeling less than grateful at the end of a long day. Any suggestions?”

A: Find a centralized place on the map that would require the least amount of drive time for Father’s Day.  Plan a fun “Fathers Day Out” itinerary that takes advantage of the attractions and amenities found there.  Let Dad, husband and father-in-law (plus mom and mother-in-law) know the special plans ahead of time.  Enjoying a new place together and having more time to do so will likely make the drive more bearable for all parties.  A good “Plan B” may mean celebrating with one set of parents on Saturday, and the other set on Sunday.

Warm Father’s Day Wishes,


Diane Gottsman

Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert and modern manners professional, sought out industry leader, television personality, accomplished speaker, Huffington Post blogger, author, and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training. Diane is routinely quoted in national and international media including The New York Times, The BBC, CNN, Bloomberg Business Week, Kiplinger, Huffington Post Canada, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes. She is the resident etiquette expert for two popular morning talk shows, SA Living and Good Day Austin. She has been seen on The TODAY Show, HLN Headline News, WGN Chicago, and CBS Sunday Morning. Her clients range from university students to Fortune 500 companies and her workshops cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media.


  1. Roger says

    My son is very upset with me because I did not call him for Father’s Day. I was waiting for his call all day and hurt that he never called. When my wife told me his reasoning I was both shocked and could not believe his reasoning! He’s 28, been married 2 years, and was raised to respect his parents and family so I’m at a loss. Vice caving in to the entitled generation, how can I convey the message or steer him to the fact that I am his father and that he should call his father on Father’s Day and his mother on Mother’s Day, and then when his daughter gets older she will be calling Father’s Day and celebrating with him?

  2. Mary says

    My husband is a single dad. I am a step mother of a 21 year old son (that I met while he was 13 years of age). His son is away at school and we are empty nesters. While I have never been acknowledged on mother’s day or step mother’s day, my husband feels that I need to fully acknowledge him on father’s day by taking him to brunch, buying gift, etc. I told him that he is not my father and that his son should acknowledge it. I do say happy father’s day, but that is about the extent of it. His son has always acknowledged him. what is the proper etiquette?

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